Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Hope and the Glorious Mysteries

When you’re sunk in depression and you’re fighting through doubt, discouragement, disappointment, defeat, failure, and all the other negative emotions that you’ll go through in life, there is no greater help than to spend quality time reflecting on the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary.

The Glorious Mysteries – the Rewards of Perseverance

In these 5 short passages from Scripture, we find reminders that everything we’re going through now is only the doorway through which we must pass in order to find greater things. Just one breath past the cross lies the Resurrection. One breath beyond the Resurrection lies the Ascension. Another breath and we reach the day of Pentecost when we are ignited with passion and purpose and fused with life, sent forth to bring life to the dead and healing to the broken hearted. Another breath and we are lifted up to greater heights than we dared dream. One last breath and we find our crown awaiting, the throne of honor given to those who dare to persevere through all that life has to offer without losing hold of hope.

The Resurrection – Matthew 28:1-15

For those early disciples, laying the body of Christ in a tomb on Friday wasn’t just the burial of their leader and their friend. It was the burial of all of their hopes and their dreams of a better future. The promises that Christ made during His lifetime of a kingdom of glory were laid to rest. His death meant the death of it all.

Their lives, which had seemed so full of promise the previous Sunday, were worse off than before they’d met Christ. Before Christ came into their lives, they were peasants, slaves, living under oppression. But they were left alone, ignored, unnoticed. They were nobody and nobody really cared what became of them.

Following Christ changed all of that. It made them feel stronger and important while He was with them, now it made them hunted and vulnerable. They were wanted by the authorities. Their lives were endanger. There was nowhere they could go that people wouldn’t recognize and know them as the followers of Christ.

Carrying every ounce of this grief with them, the women slipped out of the upper room where they were gathered for those three days early morning on Sunday. They carried with them the spices to anoint the body. They were prepared for the stench that would be present from a 3 days decayed body. Tears streamed down their faces as they hurried together, but alone in their grief at the same time.

Christ’s mother refused to join them. They couldn’t understand, but she would not be moved and so they left her there with the other apostles. She kept telling them her son was back, but they chalked it up to a grieving mother’s fantasies. Christ was gone. He would not be returning.

An earthquake shook the ground just as they came to the tomb. The women clung to one another in fright, watching in awe as the boulder which sealed the tomb rolled to the side. An angel sat on top of the boulder, radiant and glorious and fearful all at the same time. The guards that were in charge of protecting the tomb from those who might try to steal the body became frightened and passed out.

“Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here. He has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.”

The angel’s words broke through to the frightened women. Tears transformed from sorrow to those of infinite joy. Laughter filled their mouths. They felt like they were dreaming. Peace and Hope settled in the hearts that were deadened by doubt and despair only moments earlier. Their trust was not misplaced!

They turned to go as the angel commanded. Christ greeted them. Joy returned along with their hopes and dreams. The promises of a kingdom of glory returned to life in that same instant.

How often does this happen to us? God allows our dreams and our hopes to be smashed to pieces right before our very eyes. The expectations we have for how things are to go are not met and we find ourselves mourning the death of everything we worked so hard to achieve. 

Our belief is tested in fire. Our faith is dismantled. Dismayed, doubtful, discouraged, and fearful we huddle in silence, facing an uncertain future.

But God does not take things from us to be cruel. What is smashed to pieces is taken away and something better rebuilt in its place. The expectations we had before were built on lies and falsehoods. He gives us a new understanding and new wisdom so that our expectations are based on truth which cannot disappoint us. 

He tears us down in order to build us up stronger, wiser, and more capable than ever of doing the work needed to reach the promised land.

The Ascension – Acts 1: 6-12

Their dreams are resurrected, Christ walks among them again and once more they feel powerful, hopeful, and filled with assurance. Then the day comes when the disciples ask him when the time will come for him to fulfill His promise of the restoration of the Kingdom of Glory. His response is not what they expect.

“It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.”

They were confused by his response. No one who is present needs a witness. They can witness for themselves. Why did they need to become witnesses?

Then Christ rises up from the ground right in front of their eyes and a cloud removes him from their sight. They look up to try and see him, and as they are looking upward two men in white robes speak up.

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into the heavens.”

They don’t know what to do. This isn’t how things were supposed to go. Jesus was supposed to stay here, with them. They return to the upper room, remaining in Jerusalem as Jesus instructed them.

Day after day they wait and they pray – for what they aren’t sure. Christ’s mother helps them to pass the time by telling them stories of her own childhood and engagement, of her son’s birth and the time He was lost to her in the Temple. She reassures them with her love and her confidence, giving them more to think about than their doubts and fears. And every day, they pray to be ready to receive whatever this Holy Spirit might be.

Peter leads them in choosing a replacement for Judas. They cast lots, and the role falls to Matthias. He was one who accompanied them during all the time the Lord Jesus walked among them from the baptism of John until His ascension, so he was an eye witness to the events.

Ten days stretches out like eternity as they wait for Christ’s promise to be fulfilled. Still hunted, still wanted, still threatened by authorities, they have no place else to go. This place is all they know.

The resurrection comes, and then the ascension. The dream revives, but the path forward seems to disappear and all we can do is wait. Wait for further instructions, wait for something – we don’t know what – to happen. Bewildered, abandoned, unsure, uncertain, confident and insecure at the same time, we wait.

But the waiting time is not meant to torment us or to discourage us. It is meant to prepare us. It is housekeeping time. Time to get everything in order so that when it is time, we are ready to strike out in force. Ready to claim the ministry that is ours and to serve with courage and confidence those to whom we will be given charge.

Descent of the Holy Spirit – Acts 2:1-5

The Feast of Pentecost arrives. A sound like a mighty wind fills the whole house. Tongues of fire appear, dividing to appear above each person’s head. Like the burning bush of Moses, they are on fire but not consumed by it. They begin to speak in tongues unknown to them. They burst forth from the upper room filled with purpose, on fire with passion for spreading the message, alive as they have never been alive before in their lives.

They know exactly what needs to be said. They know exactly what it is they need to do, and they are ready to commit themselves to doing it. They face trials and tribulations, work tirelessly in service to others, and carry more responsibilities than ever before in their lives. Countless people turn to them for consolation, for healing, for help and for answers.

People marvel at the work they do, and their fame spreads. Purpose ignites passion and spreads the message far and wide.

When you know why you are doing the work you are doing, and you are alive with passion, you will go to the ends of the earth to share that joy with others. No obstacle will be enough to stop you. Nothing will stand in your way. As my friend and mentor Suria Sparks puts it,

“When you find the why so big it makes you cry, you’ll find the things that give you wings to fly.”

The Assumption – Acts 13:35

When the time came for Mary to be reunited with her son, Jesus, it was a painful moment for the disciples. She was like a mother to them all, nurturing their hopes and bandaging their wounds, encouraging and guiding them with the wisdom that came from knowing Christ so intimately.

Yet they loved her enough to know that every fiber of her being ached for this moment of reunion with the Son whose home was in Heaven. They loved her enough to rejoice that she would finally be fully united with Him in the Glory of the Kingdom. She might have stayed longer if they’d asked her, she loved them enough to make that sacrifice, but it was time to let her go.

Mary felt their pain and anguish, but the joy at stepping into her new role beside her son was more than her sorrow at saying goodbye. She would continue to support them in their journey, just in a different way. It was time to go to the place she truly belonged.

When you finally begin to achieve success in any area of life, you will have to make changes and adjustments. You will leave behind some of the people you’ve grown close to in order to be able to fulfill your new role and take on your new responsibilities. It can be tough to let go of what was and to embrace this new life, but rest assured that what is waiting ahead is greater than the life you were living.

It is also true that as you do the work you must do to improve your life, you will lose mentors along the way. It will be hard to say goodbye. You will be tempted to hold them close to you, but if you love them you must let them go where they are needed most. They will go on to bigger things and your relationship with them will change dramatically. The way the two of you connect will be different, but it will be no less powerful. Their presence will continue to work in you, unseen, but very real.

The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin – 1 Corinthians 9:25, 1 Peter 5: 4, James 1:12, and 2 Timothy 2:12

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” – 1 Corinthians 9:25

“when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” – 1 Peter 5:4

“Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him.” – James 1:12

“If we endure, we shall also reign with him.” - 2 Timothy 2:12

Mary lived her life faithful in the service of Love, patient in the trials which came before her, willing to forgive and to love all those who hurt her and her son. She exemplified the life we are all called to live, and her reward was a crown of Glory and a seat at the side of Her Son.

When we persevere in seeking to love and to serve others, we too will find our crown of glory awaits. The honor and glory will come in this life from those whom we have served whose gratitude for what we have done will be like a jewel in that crown and the service we’ve rendered the incorruptible gold that holds up those jewels. 

We will wear with pride the knowledge that the world is better for our having been here, and that is a crown of glory that no man can snatch from us.

Hope and Baptism

I have shown in these last few chapters the role that the Rosary plays in helping us hold on to hope in life’s challenging moments. Next I will take you through the role of the Sacraments in helping to armor us with a hope that does not disappoint. 

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